It was recently announced that in 2020 the Baltimore Museum of Art will adopt a policy of absolute discrimination. For the entire year, they will refuse to obtain any works of art produced by men. Additionally, the museum will feature 22 exhibits, and each one will focus specifically on women.
This comes on the back of a previous ideologically based decision by the museum–the sale of pieces from famous male artists Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Franz Kline and the use of the proceeds to purchase paintings and sculptures by women.
Why? Museum director Christopher Bedford claims this policy is part of rectifying “centuries of imbalance.” Well, that’s obviously just a lie. It’s really the adoption of a man-hating policy that puts ideology over art, the whole point of the museum.
Before we can even begin to discuss the merits of this and similar policies as means of rectifying past injustices, we must take a look at whether these injustices truly even happened. In this case, as in many others, the answer is no.
First, I challenge you to find a single institution with the reverse policy within the last three millennia. Has a museum ever said, next year we’ll only be accepting work from men? Has the sentence ever even been uttered in a boardroom? Of course not, but yet we’re inundated with rhetoric that claims this was the case despite blatant facts to the contrary.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw this story was an episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History entitled “The Lady Vanishes.” The episode discusses the painting The Roll Call by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler, which it touts as an example of women breaking the glass ceiling in the art world. Like many stories of this nature, Gladwell’s telling portrays Lady Butler as overcoming the odds to enter the boys’ club of the British art scene at the time.
But that was 150 years ago…
Why do we have so many stories about women breaking the glass ceiling centuries ago but then still buy into the narrative that they’re oppressed in contemporary society? In 150 years will the artists in the Baltimore Museum of Art be used as examples of women finally breaking into the art scene? Probably.
So how far back do you go?
If you do a little more research into the Lady Butler story, you will discover she was not breaking into some boys’ club at all. In fact, the Royal Academy which elected her piece for exhibition was founded by two women. Alright, so I guess those two must be our example of women finally smashing the patriarchy?
You can keep going back forever. I frequently see feminists champion the story of Agnodice, who they claim was the first female doctor in Ancient Athens… 2,500 years ago. They always fail to mention, though, that her existence is merely a legend and women were quite well represented in the Athens medical community. So how exactly does it justify discriminating against men in 2019 AD?
Don’t worry, Gladwell covers it. You see, an example of women participating in something and being granted equal opportunity to men doesn’t mean they aren’t still being oppressed. The invisible, ever-present hand of patriarchy still guides all things.
How incredibly convenient. Like the story of Agnodice, this is all just mythology, a narrative designed to give these ideologues the casus belli to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t align with them, including men in general.
Radical ideologies often create a narrative using victimhood to justify their antagonistic views against another group. Normally, this involves historical revisionism to erase the nuances of the past and portray themselves as the good guys.
There are plenty of worrying examples of this. The Nazi party rose to power in Germany in large part due to this rhetoric. They portrayed Germans as the victims of an international financial conspiracy that had infiltrated the German government and sold out the people through surrender at the end of WWI. This culminated in a false flag operation where a member of the German minority in western Poland was supposedly killed by Polish nationals, thereby justifying German invasion.
Although victim narratives are often based on exaggerations or outright lies, they don’t have to be. However, even if they’re true, ideologies normally use them to validate their own discriminatory or oppressive philosophies.
The Nazi party was telling the truth when they told the German people that heavy-handed penalties imposed on Germany by France and Britain after WWI and the subsequent Occupation of the Ruhr had negatively affected German life. In hindsight, though, we can clearly see that the actions this rhetoric supposedly vindicated were not remotely just. They did not, as the Baltimore Museum of Art wants to claim, rectify injustices of the past.
The entire argument behind this policy is based on flawed logic. Over representing women in 2020 doesn’t rectify anything that happened centuries ago. Even if women were discriminated against 100 years ago, this does not even the scales of justice in any way whatsoever.
Human beings are individuals, not demographics. “Women” as a group cannot suffer injustice, only individual women can. If indeed female artists of the past were denied opportunities based on their gender–which they most certainly were not–then justice for them would be granting them renewed opportunities. Of course, those women are long dead. Similarly, “men” as a group cannot experience unfair benefits. If a man in 1875 had his work of art chosen over a superior piece by a woman, then he experienced that benefit as an individual. A man in 2019 who’s passed up never experienced that benefit, so this policy doesn’t somehow even the scales. It just discriminates against men.
Of course, this is no surprise. Policies such as these are not based on rational considerations of justice. They are based on ideologies, an instinctual and emotional function of the tribal human mind that creates an us-vs-them mentality. It is about group survival and therefore aims to see people not as individuals but rather as races, genders, nationalities and, in modern history, creeds.
Because these ideologies merely come to serve as tribal identifiers, it’s no surprise that they use their victim narratives ultimately to punish anyone who doesn’t conform to their ingroup. This is apparent in the case of the Baltimore Museum of Art because it turns out they will be accepting art from males, specifically from transgender women.
This may seem logical on the face of it, but consider it objectively. The Museum won’t accept art from “men,” but it will accept it from someone with an XY chromosome pair if they renounce their masculinity and identify as a “woman” in conformity with their radfem ideology.
Don’t buy it. The Baltimore Museum of Art and its director Christopher Bedford are not on the side of justice. Feminists like them are not the victims. Quite the opposite, they are the prejudiced and discriminatory group that hates and looks to punish anyone who is different from them.